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    Matt 9:35 am on March 5, 2011 Permalink  

    Missed Opportunity 

    Obama and Calderon Fail to Discuss Alternatives to Drug War

    By Daniel Ernesto Robelo

    Mexican President Felipe Calderon and President Obama ignored the elephant in the room in their meeting — drug prohibition is the cause of prohibition.

  • avatar

    Deb 12:47 pm on March 3, 2011 Permalink  

    ‘High’ holy men downed by Nepal cannabis ban 

    Mohideen Mifthah

    KATHMANDU, March 2, 2011

    (AFP) – Police in Nepal on Wednesday cracked down on the sale of cannabis at a major religious festival where the drug is smoked legally by thousands of long-haired holy men to honour a Hindu god, an official said.

    Marijuana is illegal in Nepal, but under an ancient legal loophole authorities allow holy men — known as sadhus — to smoke it during a night of often wild celebrations in honour of Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction.

    Thousands of pilgrims travel to the sprawling Pashupatinath temple complex in Kathmandu every year from all over Nepal and India to mark the occasion, which is known as Shivaratri.

    At one time the government even used to provide marijuana for the occasion, but authorities said they decided to enforce a ban on holy men selling the drug because of complaints they were dealing to local people.

    “The holy men are free to use the drugs for themselves. But they can’t sell it to others,” said Narottam Vaidhya of the Pashupati Area Development Trust, which looks after the temple complex.

    “Not all the sadhus are holy men and some come with bad intentions. Our aim is to prevent people from posing as holy men in order to break the law,” he told AFP.

    Vaidhya said armed police, some of them in plain clothes, had been deployed to the area to look out for anyone breaking the law ahead of Wednesday’s celebrations.

    “As of today, we have arrested seven sadhus for selling drugs,” he added.

    Sadhus, who renounce all worldly possessions and usually live in caves or temples, have been coming to Kathmandu for hundreds of years to celebrate the festival.

    They mark it by smoking cannabis because Hindu mythology suggests Shiva himself enjoyed the drug.

    Shivaratri is a public holiday in India and Nepal, where all government offices and schools are shut for the day.

    Huge camps are set up to accommodate the visiting sadhus, many of whom arrive weeks ahead of the celebrations.

  • avatar

    Deb 2:31 pm on January 30, 2011 Permalink  

    Amsterdam is done. Where will potheads turn now? 

    By Agence France-Presse

    Sunday, January 30th, 2011

    MAASTRICHT, Netherlands — Learning to grow their own weed or finding a dealer: French and Belgian potheads are seeking alternatives to the famous Dutch coffee shop as The Hague plans to cut off drug tourists.

    Incensed by the “nuisance” caused by millions of people crossing its borders each year to visit one of 670 licensed coffee shops, the Netherlands plans to turn these cannabis-vending cafes into private clubs for card-carrying members — Dutch residents only.

    “We are busy learning about growing cannabis at home,” a 27-year-old Belgian visitor told AFP at “Mississippi”, a well-known coffee shop in Maastricht on the border with Germany and Belgium.

    “Smoking a joint, that is our recreation. We really enjoy smoking a joint with a cup of coffee,” said the woman, a regular of the smoky establishment in the hold of a barge moored on the Maas River.

    Though technically illegal, the Netherlands decriminalized the possession of less than five grams (0.18 ounce) of cannabis in 1976 under a so-called “tolerance” policy.

    Cannabis cultivation and wholesale remain illegal and are in the hands of criminal organizations in a black-market business worth an estimated two billion euros ($2.7 billion) per year.

    About 1.4 million foreigners visit Maastricht’s 14 coffee shops every year, more than half of them Belgian, followed in joint second place by French and Germans.

    The foreigners’ presence raises the hackles of local residents who blame them for traffic jams, nocturnal disturbances, and attracting the seedy underbelly of the illegal drug trade.

    “In the 200 yards between the parking garage and the entrance to Mississippi, I can be approached twice or three times by people trying to sell me cocaine,” said a 19-year-old French student on the street of Maastricht.

    The city proposed in 2005 to ban foreigners from its coffee shops, whose owners opposed the move and are contesting it before the Dutch Council of State — the country’s highest administrative court which also advises the government on legal issues.

    The court, set to make a ruling in the coming months, sought the input of the European Court of Justice, which ruled in December that banning foreigners was justified “by the objective of combating drug tourism and the accompanying public nuisance”.

    The new, rightist Dutch government inaugurated last October wants to extend the proposed ban to coffee shops countrywide and has mooted the introduction of a national “wietpas” (literally weed pass).

    Coffee shops are currently permitted to stock no more than 500 grams (a little over one pound) of the soft drug at any given time, but this limit is often flouted.

    “Nuisance and criminality related to … the trade in narcotics must be reduced,” states the governing coalition agreement signed in September.

    “Coffee shops must be private clubs for adult residents of the Netherlands on presentation of a pass,” it stipulates.

    “If they keep us out, we will find it (cannabis) at home, in France, but it is not the same,” said regular Maastricht visitor Kevin Armand, 22. “The quality of what we can buy on the street (in France) is not the same.”

    Armand was on a three-day visit to the Netherlands … “to smoke quality grass in peace,” as he explains.

    Adrian, a 25-year-old salesman from Luxembourg, insisted he would continue visiting the capital of the southern Limburg province and “try to find weed from dealers on the streets”.

    Maastricht’s coffee shop owners also dread the impact of the government’s hardened stance on soft drugs.

    “It will be an economic catastrophe for us, but also for tourism,” predicted Marc Josemans, owner of the “Easy Going” coffee shop and president of the Association of Coffee Shops of Maastricht.

    At least one Belgian has read the writing on the wall.

    “I have been coming to Maastricht for years to get my weed,” said the 57-year-old, who like most of the cannabis users approached by AFP, did not want to give his name.

    “This may be a good time to stop smoking joints.”

  • avatar

    Matt 11:25 am on January 27, 2011 Permalink

    Soldiers Seize Drug Slingshot on US-Mexico Border 

    In what seems like a scene straight out of a Monty Python movie, Mexican soldiers seized a giant catapult believed to have been used to fling drugs across the U.S.-Mexico border.

    Acting on a tip from the U.S. Border Patrol, the Mexican military confiscated 45 pounds of marijuana, an SUV and a metal-framed catapult just south of the border with Arizona last Friday. The U.S. tip was based on surveillance video of the border region, recorded by National Guard troops deployed to help U.S. border guards.

  • avatar

    Matt 12:46 pm on January 25, 2011 Permalink  

    Global Commission on Drug Policies 

    Ex world leaders, Branson launch drugs campaign
    Sir Richard Branson
    GENEVA — Former world leaders and other personalities including Virgin chief Richard Branson on Monday launched a global drive to tackle drug abuse, amid signs that a crackdown on drugs crime is failing.

    “There is a growing perception that the ‘war on drugs’ approach has failed,” the Global Commission on Drug Policies said in a statement, as it began an inaugural two day meeting in Geneva.

    The commission, a private venture chaired by ex-Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, also includes the former presidents of Mexico and Colombia, Ernesto Zedillo and Cesar Gaviria, ex-EU foreign affairs chief Javier Solana and former Norwegian minister and international negotiator Thorvald Stoltenberg.

  • avatar

    Matt 12:17 pm on January 24, 2011 Permalink  

    U.S. Rejects Indigenous Rights in Favor of Failed War on Drugs 

    Strong-arms Other Countries to Follow Suit

    By Daniel Ernesto Robelo, Alternet

    Why is the United States formally objecting to Bolivia’s request to the UN to allow its ancestral practice of coca leaf chewing?

    Last week the United States formally objected to Bolivia’s request to the United Nations to allow the ancestral practice of coca leaf chewing. In doing so, it revealed the corruption, hypocrisy and futility of the global war on drugs, which it clearly values over the rights of indigenous peoples.

    Bolivia’s proposal is modest. It would strike two clauses from the 1961 U.N. Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs, which require that coca chewing “be abolished within twenty-five years” after taking effect. The existing system of cocaine prohibition would remain.

  • avatar

    Matt 12:37 pm on January 23, 2011 Permalink  

    The War On Drugs Is Lost 

    By Fernando Henrique Cardoso

    SAO PAULO-The war on drugs is a lost war, and 2011 is the time to move away from a punitive approach in order to pursue a new set of policies based on public health, human rights and common sense. These are the core findings of the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy that I convened, together with former presidents Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico and Cesar Gaviria of Colombia.

    We became involved with this issue for a compelling reason: the violence and corruption associated with drug trafficking represents a major threat to democracy in our region. This sense of urgency led us to evaluate current policies and look for viable alternatives. The evidence is overwhelming that the prohibitionist approach, based on repression of production and criminalization of consumption, has clearly failed.

    After 30 years of massive effort, all prohibitionism has achieved is to shift areas of cultivation and drug cartels from one country to another (the so-called balloon effect). Latin America remains the world’s largest exporter of cocaine and marijuana. Thousands of young people continue to lose their lives in gang wars. Drug lords rule by fear over entire communities.

    We ended our report with a call for a paradigm shift. The illicit drug trade will continue as long as there is demand for drugs. Instead of sticking to failed policies, that do not reduce the profitability of the drug trade – and thus its power – we must redirect our efforts to the harm caused by drugs to people and societies, and to reducing consumption.

  • avatar

    Matt 11:06 am on January 20, 2011 Permalink  

    Mexico’s Ex-President Vicente Fox: Legalize Drugs 

    As Mexico drowns in drug related bloodshed — suffering almost 12,000 murders in 2010 — it is perhaps unsurprising that government critics turn up their screaming that the war on drugs isn’t working. But it was a bit of a bombshell when former president Vicente Fox added his voice to the chorus. The cowboy-boot wearing leader, who ruled Mexico from 2000 to 2006, had once declared the “mother of all battles” against crime and rounded up drug kingpins. But before he left office, he had witnessed the first big spike in violence as the narcos retaliated. In August of 2010, evidence surfaced that his vision had changed when he wrote on his blog that prohibition wasn’t working. Now, in a recent interview with TIME in his hometown in Central Mexico, he explains that his views have moved on to the other end of the spectrum: favoring full-on legalization of production, transit and selling of prohibited drugs. Fox is most explicit about marijuana, but argues that the principle applied to all illegal drugs.

  • avatar

    Deb 1:07 pm on December 27, 2010 Permalink  

    Drug decriminalization pays off in Portugal as US weighs its options 

    By The Associated Press
    Monday, December 27th, 2010

    LISBON, Portugal (AP) — These days, Casal Ventoso is an ordinary blue-collar community – mothers push baby strollers, men smoke outside cafes, buses chug up and down the cobbled main street.

    Ten years ago, the Lisbon neighborhood was a hellhole, a “drug supermarket” where some 5,000 users lined up every day to buy heroin and sneaked into a hillside honeycomb of derelict housing to shoot up. In dark, stinking corners, addicts – some with maggots squirming under track marks – staggered between the occasional corpse, scavenging used, bloody needles.

    Full story Here

  • avatar

    Matt 11:41 am on December 19, 2010 Permalink  

    ‘Legalise And Regulate Drugs’ Says UK’s Former Drugs And Defence Minister 

    Bob Ainsworth MP, former Home Office drugs minister and Secretary of State for Defence, will call for the legalisation and regulation of drugs during a Parliamentary debate he is leading in Westminster Hall, at 2.30pm, Thurs 16th December 2010.

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